Lanny Davis ’67 LAW ’70 has advised and represented some controversial clients, including the likes of Harvey Weinstein. He is now once again in the spotlight, this time for defending Michael Cohen — President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer — who on Aug. 21 pleaded guilty to breaking campaign finance laws, as well as tax evasion and bank fraud.

At Yale, Davis contributed to the Yale Law Journal, served as chairman of the News and belonged to the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He began his political career by running for Congress in Maryland’s 8th congressional district in 1976 as a Democrat and later served three terms on the Democratic National Committee, from 1980 to 1992. In 1996, he joined the Clinton White House as a special counsel to the president and remained there until 1998.

In 2005, then-President George W. Bush ’68 appointed him to serve as the only Democrat on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, from which Davis resigned in 2007.

He has since worked with a plethora of individual clients and companies, including Equatorial Guinea’s longtime dictator, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, and — as Davis now publicly claims —the U.S. State Department as a part of a covert plan to resolve political tension in the Ivory Coast. The latter job brought Davis into intimate contact with former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, who was taken into custody by the International Criminal Court in 2011.

Davis could not be reached for comment.

On his personal website, Davis says that what he does for a living today is “crisis management.”

“People ask me, am I sorry that I defend people that are in trouble having a hard time getting the facts out? No. Is that a controversial line of work? Yes,” the website says. “But I think I have the ability to get facts out and do it successfully. It means sometimes I’m part of the controversy because I’m trying to help.”

Cohen, often referred to as Trump’s “fixer,” hired Davis in early July, after dropping his former lawyers in mid-June.

Davis said that he decided to take the job after Cohen insisted in an interview with ABC News that his loyalty was with his “family and country first,” not with President Trump.

“Why is my representing [Michael Cohen] as attorney of such high interest?” Davis tweeted on July 8. “Not about me. It’s about a nation’s yearning for truth. And Michael Cohen has said it’s time for him to speak the truth and put his family and Country first. I am glad to help him.”

After joining Cohen’s team, Davis made multiple appearances on TV shows publicly defending his client. Davis has criticized Trump and his current lawyer, describing their strategy as “flawed” in a July 21 tweet. He also provided CNN with a secret tape of Cohen and Trump discussing the possibility of buying the story of a woman who alleged that she had an affair with the president.

Cohen pleaded guilty on Tuesday to paying hush money to two women “in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office … for the principal purpose of influencing the [2016 presidential] election.”

The specific women were not named in the court documents. But, a porn star who goes by the stage name Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy model named Karen McDougal had already gone public about their sexual encounters with the president before the court proceedings. Cohen paid the former $130,000 and facilitated the payment of $150,00o to the latter to prevent them from telling their stories to the public before the election.

After the plea, Davis said that Cohen’s testimony clearly implicated Trump in the crimes.

“Today he stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election,” he tweeted.  “If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?”

Cohen received his law degree from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School in 1991.

Anastasiia Posnova | anastasiia.posnova@yale.edu

Clarification, August 24: This version of the article has been updated to reflect public statements that Lanny Davis has made in the past regarding the nature of his relationship with the former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo.

  • Dally Saybrook

    Lanny Davis, a longtime friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, is the co-founder and partner of his name-sake law firm, Davis Goldberg & Galper. The law firm is a current, active, registered foreign agent for Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash, a close ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

    Davis’ law firm is a registered foreign agent that pockets roughly $1 million a year to lobby the U.S. government on behalf of one of Vladimir Putin’s closest allies, Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash.

    Firtash is under indictment in the United States for bribing government officials and is fighting extradition from his residence in Austria.

    “When Davis spews propaganda targeting POTUS legitimacy, is he not helping Russia spread discord in USA?” Jordan Schachtel tweeted.

    Schachtel is the national security correspondent for the Conservative Review and an editor at CRTV. In 2016, Schachtel resigned from Breitbart to protest what he called its pro-Trump leanings, so he’s not exactly an avid Trump supporter.

    While Democrats have repeatedly claimed that the 2016 Trump campaign colluded with Russia (despite no evidence), pro-Russia oligarch Dmytro Firtash wired Lanny Davis $80,000 on October, 24th, 2016 — two weeks before the presidential election.

    Was the payment to influence the U.S. election at the bidding of a foreign power? “Interesting timing, yes?” Schachtel wondered.

    Additional FARA records show Lanny Davis personally lobbied for pro-Putin puppet Dmytro Firtash.

    A damning money trail suggests Lanny Davis is promoting the interests of a foreign power to the United States government. That should immediately cast doubt on where his true allegiance lies, especially now that he’s actively working to undermine a sitting United States president.

  • Dally Saybrook

    Also Davis admitted on Thursday (August 23) that he erroneously confirmed a CNN report about Trump’s knowledge of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting with the Russians.

    CNN reported on July 27 that Cohen was prepared to tell Special Counsel Robert Mueller that the president had advance knowledge of the Trump Tower meeting. On Wednesday, Davis said that the reporting was “mixed up” and that his client had no information regarding when Trump knew about the meeting.

    According to the New York Post, however, Davis himself confirmed CNN’s report as an anonymous source when it was first published.

    Davis is now apologizing on the record for confirming something he did not know to be true.

    “I regret that I wasn’t clear enough to The Post. I should have been more clear. I could not independently confirm the information in the CNN story,” Davis said. “I’m sorry that I left that impression. I wasn’t at the meeting. The only person who could confirm that information is my client, [Michael Cohen].”

    Cohen has also provided information to Congress that would debunk CNN’s report.

    The leaders of the Senate Intel committee said that Cohen testified to them that he personally did not know about the Trump Tower meeting before it happened. This contradicts CNN’s reporting that Cohen was in a meeting with Trump when Donald Trump Jr. informed him of the Russians’ offer for dirt on Hillary Clinton.

    Yes, indeed, that double Yale graduate Lanny Davis certainly likes to talk and talk and really mix it up.

    Next!

  • ShadrachSmith

    What a weasel.